NEWPORT SPEEDWAY IN 1964
The 1964 season started in controversy, and like the previous year ended in disaster. The controversy was brought about by the refusal of Wolverhampton to move up to the National League after winning the Provincial League title in 1963. This caused a split between the leagues, and the Provincial League was outlawed by the Speedway Control Board and all National League riders were forbidden to ride on Provincial tracks. Provincial League riders were warned by the Speedway Control board that they were in breach of ACU regulations and could be suspended from all competitive racing. They were also barred from the World Speedway Championship, however the season was eventually concluded and the breach was healed during the close season. The Stoke Potters, St Austell Gulls and Rayleigh Rockets all withdrew from the league for various reasons before the season started. The Sunderland Stars joined the league but then withdrew after riding only three matches. However, Glasgow Tigers and the Newport Wasps joined and completed the season.
Sunday April 11th 1964 was the first occasion that a Newport Wasps team appeared on a speedway track. This was at Cradley Heath Speedway and the Wasps lost 42-36 but Peter Vandenberg scored a 12-point maximum. They raced at Poole on Wednesday April 15th in a challenge match narrowly losing 41-37 but with Vandenburg again securing a four race maximum. The Wasps' home debut at Somerton Park was the following Friday April 17th 1964 when a crowd in excess of 10,000 saw Newport lose to Cradley Heath by 40 to 38. Unfortunately, Vandenburg was injured in a fall in the final heat (Heat 13) as Newport were on a 4-2 and set to draw the match. Vandenburg broke a clavical which put him out until May 13th.
The first Open Championship held on Friday April 24 at Newport saw an exciting meeting with three riders all tied on 13 points for the lead. The run off saw Exeter's Len Silver beat off Poole duo Geoff Mudge and Ross Gilbertson.
Newport beat Wolverhampton on Monday May 18th in a meeting starting at 3pm. Newport won 40-37 in a tight match. Scorers - Alby Golden 8, Jon Erskine 3, Dick Bradley 11, Geoff Penniket 5, Peter Vandenburg 6, Reg Harris 5, Vic White 2. For Wolverhampton Tommy Sweetman, Dave Hemus and Jack Kitchen all scored 8, Harry Edwards 6 and Newport's own Cyril Francis on 5.
Newport gained revenge on Cradley Heath later in the season winning the Provincial League Knock Out Cup by 97-95 (they won 58-38 at Somerton Park before going down 57-39 at Dudley Wood).